If you have been summoned for Jury Duty then your name has been randomly selected from a Jury List. These are lists of individuals from the community who have obtained or renewed driver's licenses or state IDs or who have registered to vote. You are now part of a group of potential jurors called the Jury Pool. This does not mean, however, that you will serve on a jury. The members of the actual jury will be chosen in court, through a process called Jury Selection.
Many jurisdictions will mail a Jury Questionnaire to the members of the Jury Pool. The completed questionnaires can be issued to both the prosecution and the defense for their review and use in Jury Selection. The questions will be pretty basic and may be about your occupation, your family, your education, your experience with the court, your associates and more. You can view a sample of a jury questionnaire here. You can bet that when you appear in court both the prosecution and the defense will be prepared with information about you and your fellow potential jurors. Both the state and the defense will have the opportunity to ask all the potential jurors additional, more in-depth and personal questions. Using the information from your questionnaires and the answers you give in court, the state and the defense will have an opportunity to strike or challenge those individuals they feel cannot be fair and unbiased, or that they feel cannot be trusted to follow the Jury Instructions and deliver a verdict supported by the evidence presented in court.
If you are selected to serve as a juror you will be expected to attend each day of the trial, listen to testimony, review evidence and not discuss it with each other or others during the length of the trial. Though the court can estimate how long the trial may take, they cannot guarantee a length of time. We have defended clients in jury trials lasting one day to two (2) full weeks. During the trial you will hear Opening Statements from both the prosecution and the defense. Then each side will have the opportunity to "put on their case", or call and examine their Witnesses and submit Evidence. Witnesses can be questioned, or Examined, by both sides. Once all evidence has been submitted and all witnesses have been called and examined, the prosecution and defense will present their Closing Arguments.
The Jury will now choose a Presiding Juror, or Foreperson. This individual may deliver the Verdict and will sign the verdict document in the Jury Instructions. Both the state and the defense have submitted Proposed Jury Instructions to the Court and the Court has decided on a final draft to be issued to the Jurors. These instructions will inform the members of the jury about the specifics involved in Deliberating, or reaching a verdict. It will review the actual law the charges or issues are based on. It will instruct the jurors to review the testimony and evidence they have observed and determine what sort of verdict the evidence supports. It will lay out rules about which evidence and testimony you are allowed to consider. The Judge will review the Jury Instructions with the Jury before they are released to Deliberate. Once a verdict is reached and delivered, if there are no other issues or Motions, the Judge will issue any necessary final instructions and dismiss the jury.